I got an email from a blog reader yesterday who said he and his wife are brand-new fulltimers and looking for their first workamping opportunity. He wanted to run a job offer by me to see what I thought of it, because while the campground manager was telling him what a great deal it was, it didn’t sound so good to him. After looking over the offer that he forwarded to me, it didn’t look so good to me, either.
The campground is a large operation in a popular resort area in the Midwest, and they require the couple to each work 40 hours per week in exchange for a full hookup 30 amp site, or they can upgrade to a 50 amp site and pay the campground $10 a day. The 30 amp sites normally rent for $650 per month, and the 50 amp sites go for $750 per month. It’s easy to do the math here and figure out that this is not such a hot deal after all. If he and his wife are both working 40 hours per week, that’s 80 hours total for the week or 320 hours for the month, based upon a four week (28 day) month. That’s insane! They would be paid $2.03 for each hour worked by the two of them, or about $1.01 per hour individually in return for that 30 amp site. If they choose the 50 amp site, it’s even less of a deal. They would be paying money out-of-pocket to work those kind of hours! They would be better off renting a campsite on a monthly basis and going to town and getting jobs at minimum wage.
But wait, there’s more! They are also allowed the use of a rental cabin at the resort for one week during their stay, which is a $300 value. But they can’t let their kids or relatives come and stay in that cabin, it’s for them only. So they can move out of their motorhome for a week and stay in a cabin in the same resort. Doesn’t that sound like fun? But wait, there’s still more! They also get a 50% discount on paddleboat rentals and a 10% discount on anything they purchase in the campground store. And just because that offer doesn’t sound good enough already, they would be required to work staggered shifts and days off, so they wouldn’t have any days off together, or even most evenings together. Somebody give me a pen, I want to sign up for that deal right now!
The sad thing is, there is probably some fool that will go for that deal. But it’s not me, and if these folks follow my advice, it won’t be them, either.
It kind of reminds me of some of the offers we get here the Gypsy Journal. Many times campgrounds have contacted us and asked us to come and stay for a few days and write nice things about them. We always respond that if it works for our schedule and travel itinerary, we might do that. However, we also add that we will do an honest review, and if the place is great, we will tell our readers about it. And if it’s not so great, we will tell them that, too. That turns a good number of them off right there. I guess they’re not comfortable enough with their amenities to want to have us share our opinion with the world. What’s even more interesting is that in better than half the cases where we receive these offers, they expect us to come and pay full price for a campsite. Let’s see, you want me to come to your campground that I had no intention of visiting, you want me to write good things about it, and you want me to pay for the privilege? I don’t think so.
And it’s not just campgrounds. A lot of companies contact us wanting us to review their products. And we have done a lot of reviews. But the same rules apply – if we think it’s a good product we say so, if we don’t think it’s good, we say that. And just like the campgrounds, as soon as they hear that, communication stops. There have been a lot of companies that have sent us really good products that we like, and we have told our readers about them. But just like some of the campgrounds, we have also had manufacturers ask us to review a product, we have agreed to do so under the conditions stated above, and then they want our credit card number so we can pay for it. No, thank you. I’m not going to pay you to give you publicity.
Now, to clarify, there are many times when we buy something that we want, and after using it we think it’s good and will be useful to our readers, and I mention it here in the blog and in the Gypsy Journal. But that’s because it’s something that we chose to purchase for our own use. We don’t solicit companies asking for freebies so we can review them, but when they come to us, it has to be under our terms. And if they don’t like that, I know of a campground in the Midwest that is looking for workampers. They can go there and tell their story.
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While that work-camping deal is extreme, I’ve seen many of them where the pay amounts to minimum wage or less. In many cases it would make sense to pay for your site and get a job at a nearby fast food place.
Thanks for all your advice Nick. We knew in our hearts it wasn’t a fair tradeoff and when you broke down the numbers we were both amazed at just how bad it was. When I e-mailed back to decline the manager said that we had to keep in mind that Branson is the entertainment capital of the region and being there was worth a lot. I guess maybe so, but if we were not off together to do anything why be there working those kind of hours?
Just want to respond to Jeremy. If you are an Escapees member, there is an Escapees park near Branson in Hollister (right next door to Branson). The monthly rate for Escapees is $325/month and includes 30 amp service. Non Escapees rate is $395/month (see the website). So this campground owner is full of you know what. We looked at work camping but discovered that the “pay” which has to be reported to the IRS is definitely way below minimum wage. We found you are better off to find a nice small CG and find temporary jobs if you need the cash, The CG owner is not doing you any favors here.
My wife and I couldn’t get out of Branson fast enough. We had heard of all the entertainment, but all we found were tribute artists offering the acts of dead and dying entertainers.